When I departed Amsterdam for France the calendar was only a couple of days shy of my two-year anniversary with the IHF. It was on January 11, 2015 that I flew from London to Doha for my first Men’s World Championship, and just two years before that I was buying a ticket for the final of the same event thinking I would never have the chance to do so live again.
After a complete two-year cycle of tournaments, I felt like a very different person travelling to France from the one that arrived in Qatar at the beginning of 2015.
Immediately, everything in Paris was incredible: The hotel located adjacent to the Eiffel Tower, the light show on the Arc de Triomphe to launch the event, the opening press conference with beautiful views at the Institut du Monde Arabe, the picturesque drive to the arena along the Seine every day, the level of organisation in a country with such a different handball culture from my own, and work in general – helpful teams and officials that made my job so easy, interesting stories, and surprises on the court that kept things interesting.
Paris was my home for three wonderful weeks and I had a little opportunity to explore and visit my favourite shops (where I purchased too many books to be considered a smart traveller), but all too soon it was over. The teams were whittled down from 24 to two for the final, after which we heard the triumphant French anthem once again – though this time I had an operatic version sung by Philippe Gardent (former French player and world champion) booming from behind me.
All of my articles written during France 2017 can be found here.